US Surgeon General’s Social Media Guidelines for Parents and Teenagers

The US Surgeon General’s recent guidelines on social media and youth mental health have highlighted the need for parents and teenagers to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of social media use. Read on to see the summary of 10 important guidelines that both parents and teenagers should keep in mind to promote healthy social media habits and protect their mental well-being.

Parents’ Social Media Guidelines


1. Create a Family Digital Media Plan

It is important to create a family digital media plan which sets clear expectations and boundaries regarding social media use. Encourage open discussions within the family about screen time balance, content boundaries, and privacy concerns. Visit websites like for guidance on creating a comprehensive plan for the family.

2. Encourage In-Person Social Skills

Encourage your children to engage in offline activities and develop in-person friendships. Designate tech-free zones at home, especially during mealtimes and family time. By doing so, you help build social skills, improve communication skills, and create a healthier balance between online and offline interactions. If not managed properly, social media can destroy in-person social skill development.

3. Be a Responsible Role Model

Children learn by observing their parents’ behaviour. Set a positive example by practising responsible and healthy social media use. Limit your own screen time, be mindful of what and how you share information about your child, and model positive behaviour on your social media accounts. Think about what they will see when they visit your own social media.

Parents, think about what your children will see when they visit your own social media. Click To Tweet


4. Educate Your Children about Technology

Discuss the benefits and risks of social media with your children at an age-appropriate level. Teach them about privacy settings, online etiquette, and the importance of protecting personal information. Encourage open conversations about their online experiences and empower them to seek help if needed. Refer to resources such as the AAP’s Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health for expert guidance.

5. Report Cyberbullying and Online Abuse

Familiarize yourself and your child with reporting options for cyberbullying and online abuse. If your child is being harassed or approached by adults seeking explicit content, support them and encourage them to take action. Such as reporting incidents to the appropriate authorities, whether it be the school, online platform, or local law enforcement.

Teenagers’ Social Media Guidelines


1. Seek Support as Needed

It is important for teenagers to know that if they are negatively affected by social media, they can reach out to a trusted adult or parent for assistance. Teenagers should never feel that they need to navigate this alone, there is always someone to help.

2. Set Boundaries for Online and Offline Activities

Maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities by limiting screen time before bedtime and through the night. Keep mealtimes and social gatherings device-free to facilitate meaningful face-to-face interactions. Lastly, prioritize in-person relationships and make time for unplugged interactions on a daily basis. While social media can be positive, getting addicted is a real threat that must be actively managed.

3. Develop Protective Strategies

Teenagers can take control of their online experience by tracking and managing the amount of time they spend online. Another way to take control is to block unwanted contacts and content as well as utilize privacy and safety settings. Enhance your digital media literacy skills to differentiate between factual information and opinions. Connect with peers in-person and maintain a healthy social circle.

4. Be Mindful of What You Share

Understand the value of personal information and the potential consequences of sharing it online. Selectively choose what you post and share, as it is often public and can be stored indefinitely. When in doubt, ask a trusted adult before sharing something potentially risky. It is critical to think about the future effects of posting anything online today.

It is critical to think about the future effects of posting anything online today. Click To Tweet


5. Stand Against Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

If you experience cyberbullying or online harassment, reach out to a trusted adult, parent or teacher who can provide support. Don’t keep it a secret; confide in a close friend, family


Read Also: What Instagram is Doing to Fight CyberBullying

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